It's the Season for Foraging Rose Hips

It's the Season for Foraging Rose Hips

While the bloom is off the rose right about now, there’s still plenty of beauty to behold. Fall ushers in the season for rose hips, those red to orange colored, round and fleshy little jewels that hold seeds for future plants. A close relative of the apple, rose hips are not only bright, colorful and useful in crafts and cooking, they’re also very high in linoleic acid and antioxidant vitamin C which is why they’re so often used in supplements and in cosmetics.

We see rose hips less and less in our own gardens because many of us dead head spent blossoms, and in doing so, cut off the potential for them (literally). Perhaps seeing a few examples of how pretty they are and how much you can do with them might make us rethink pruning some of those blooms.

Here are four ways to use use rose hips for fall decorating and a few tips for harvesting. (Find excellent information on how to prepare rose hips for edibles and good recipes here.)


Gather fresh rose hips (forage from a variety of roses–heirloom to modern to beach–for different sizes and colors) and slip the stems into a pre-made willow wreath from a craft store. Give them a spritz with hair spray if you’d like them to remain plump a bit longer.


Hips from Rosa rugosa (also known as “beach rose”) are among the largest and are easy to find if you live along the coast. Cut longer stems and insert them into a knotted string for a most unusual seasonal napkin ring decoration. How simple is this!


Though they’re not especially fragrant, rose hips make a lovely candle filler which spans the seasons from harvest to Thanksgiving to Christmas. They’ll begin to dry and soften as they age. Easy, natural decorating that also looks elegant.


If you have lots and lots of rose hips, perhaps the most dramatic way to use them is just to grab a bunch and insert them into a vase. Mix in other seasonal elements such as fresh or dried leaves, seed pods, and branches for a “fresh from the garden” vibe.



Pink Rugosa Rose
Zone: 3 – 9

They start the season with purplish-red flowers (also in white) and end the year with large, bright red hips. One of the easiest and most cold hardy roses to grow.


Flower Carpet® Amber Groundcover Rose
Zone: 4 – 10

While you might not think “rose hips” when considering Flower Carpet roses, they produce a huge crop of small-to-medium sized bright red hips on longer stems.


Burgundy Iceberg Shrub Rose
Zone: 5 – 9

Available in shades of white, pink and burgundy, they bloom near constantly with the added treat of lots of medium sized fruits in a glowing reddish-orange.

Good to Know:

  • Autumn is an ideal time of year to harvest rose hips.
  • Harvest hips when they become a nice bright red or orange color, depending on species.
  • Three ripe rose hips have more vitamin C than one orange.
  • If using rose hips for food, be very careful to use rose hips from roses that have not been treated with any form of pesticides that are not specifically labeled as okay for food producing crops.

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